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We're all on a budget, right?  Some more than others, but still..

I started with a realisation that astronomy was within reach, and have slowly built from a basic 2nd hand reflector to a 10" Dob.  From stock eyepieces to a couple of nice 2nd hand purchases from other amateurs.  From a book to a small library, all again 2nd hand. 

My 10" Dob cost me £155 plus petrol to Manchester.   I'm proud of my kit, and amazed that it has given me so much.

Astronomy doesn't need to be financially reaching for the stars :-)

Edited by BeerMe
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Is that a Lightbridge in your avatar picture?

Wish I could say the same as you regarding sticking to a budget. If I don't get a handle on my spending, I'll soon be observing from either the poorhouse or the nut house, whoever gets me first.  I just hope either one is a dark site.

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1 minute ago, Luna-tic said:

Is that a Lightbridge in your avatar picture?

Wish I could say the same as you regarding sticking to a budget. If I don't get a handle on my spending, I'll soon be observing from either the poorhouse or the nut house, whoever gets me first.  I just hope either one is a dark site.

A Skywatcher 250px :-)

I still pinch myself that I got it so cheap lol.

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Very nice telescope, looks new. Surprising a f/4.7 1200mm scope can achieve over 500X, I'll bet planetary is good enough to reach out and touch. Basing that on my C8's max of just under 500X at 2000mm and f/10

I may turn into one of those guys who has to have a different scope for every occasion; if so, I'll give that one a hard look if I pick up a Newt.

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I'm hoping for a glut of post-SE2017 stuff eventually. search-snipe-search. Funny you could p/u a whole set of pre-owned ETXs, say, for the cost of 1 or 2 of those mad premium eyepieces. Got an ETX-60 in beautiful shape for £65 - then a '70 for £71, two 114 Newts w/ tripods & EQ-2/3 equiv mounts for £60 each - and all those were shipped - 40% of the cost was shipping =/  (My reason excuse for the two newts is one's f/4.4, the other f/8.8) - but they are out there, inexpensive, and in quite good shape. And they all came with 'free' EPs - nothing great, but no duds.  

In the end, 'preowned' or patience lets us pursue our hobby and to try out this or that, then pass it on.  I love preowned EPs - the mid range stuff is often in great condition, like or near new, for 50%~70% retail. Bless TV/Leica/Pentax for being so superlative, so crisply wide of field, so very desireable!

I was wind-dusted back inside this eve - Saturn image escapes again!

Clear Skies, Sharp Eyes, and Pence-in-Pocket!!

 

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Well done... yes if you shop around you obviously can get a very good kit for not too much money.... good work.... and what is a bit higher number in the bank if a little outlay can bring so much pleasure.

 

 

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All of my kit is second hand, and I started basic with an old Tal-1, then upgraded to the 6" Orion on a EQ3 mount

The 10" dod build took a few months to source all the bits, and a bodge here and there to make it all work

Both brought very cheaply along the road were the ST80 and the Evo 90

Then came an old push pull 125mm frack, now upgraded with a SW focuser from a SW 120

Last on the list, and quite recent was the EQ6 mount, brought from a member here

Cost wise, over the years that's about 1k spent, but then I am a tight git ;)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It's the fact that telescopes are now 'cheaply' available to the masses that amazes me. We have a lot to thank the much maligned Chinese mirror manufacturers for...

My Dad used to say that 'way back when', there was a chap down the road who was envied because he owned a 6" Newt. And that type of telescope was considered to be owned by the likes of universities! Everyone else was cobbling together refractors from old spectacle lenses.

And here I am, worked hard to save pennies and was able to eventually afford a 16" Dob...:happy5:

However, astronomy can be done even more cheaply; there is enough going on that can be seen the Mk 1 eyeballs and that would cost a warm coat from the second hand shop.

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I must admit, I was scared to buy second hand astro stuff at the start. Feeling that with it being optics you were buying, if the person before hadn't taken care of it then you could easily end up with a lemon that you didn't like and couldn't sell on.

Ive purchased 2nd hand mounts before because they can be easily tinkered with. Recently I've bought a few second hand optical bits (mak 127, 2" revelation diagonal, aero ED 30mm) and my opinion has completely changed. I think in general astro hobbyists tend to look after their stuff.

I've probably ended up with all of this for less than the price of a new mak 127. I don't need anymore bits just now (or so I say) but I will definitely keep an eye out for good bargains on the 2nd hand market!

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Yep! All my scopes now (apart from my Opticstar AR90 ‘frac) is second hand. Hoping at some point later on next year to get a good dob, which will most likely be bought second hand. In fact most of my current mounts and tripods were all bought second hand too, along with a good chunk of EP’s, diagonals etc. 

Edited by Knighty2112
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48 minutes ago, davyludo said:

I must admit, I was scared to buy second hand astro stuff at the start. Feeling that with it being optics you were buying, if the person before hadn't taken care of it then you could easily end up with a lemon that you didn't like and couldn't sell on.

You won't be the only one!
I've  bought and sold all my eyepieces second hand (see signature)  just to trial them,and despite what others experience, only you can decide, what's best and what  'fits' your use, style, comfort zone and price. The only exception  was  for a couple of BST's which were brand new, but even with these, I still got change out of £50.

Unless the eyepiece  your buying has been physically dropped (  signs of visible damage ) or dismantled (who know's? ) then there shouldn't be too much of an issue with the eyepieces on the second hand market, after all, their sold on because they haven't improved the situation? or they just don't get used (for one reason or the other ). My Delos were sold for the reason that nothing (except field of view) improved over the BST's, ( the 8mm's compared, for example, just  me gave the same image, and detail.) As for Plössl's, right from the outset, it was my plan was to own a set, regardless.

When I started out, the 1st scope was second hand, it taught me some basics, but produced too many issues for that style of observing, so quickly upgraded to the 8" scope. The only improvement this scope can have now, is to have a permanent  light free viewing site. A bigger aperture would be nice to trial.......

Edited by Charic
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I bought nothing second hand but everything with rebates, sale prices, clearance prices, good foreign exchange rates, whatever makes the hunt less dangerous for the wallet. Then I do A LOT of do-it-yourself on my gear to make it better, comparable to more expensive things. That also makes it more valuable but that's only a moral benefit since I don't sell my stuff. I have given away some accessories and telescopes, however I never sold anything, that was the ultimate budget astronomy for those who received the goods.

But I kept the best for me. :evil4:

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Virtually all my gear has been bought on the used market - astronomers usually look after their stuff and your £'s go a lot further :icon_biggrin:

Although the forum does discuss expensive gear (quite a lot really :rolleyes2:) the hobby can be thoroughly enjoyed without spending much at all. My early years in astronomy were spent using a 1960's Tasco refractor and the stock eyepieces plus an old one that I took from a broken pair of binoculars. Enough to get me hooked on the hobby ! :grin:

 

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Astro gear starts to get expensive when serious astrophotography is intended.

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10 minutes ago, MarsG76 said:

Astro gear starts to get expensive when serious astrophotography is intended.

It's not exactly cheap to get high end visual gear!

Totally agree that you don't have to spend a fortune to get started, and to enjoy a lifetime in the hobby. If starting now I would probably get a 200 or 250p dob with a handful of BST eyepieces and be quite happy.

Trouble is, I just enjoy lovely optics, and feel inevitably I would have ended up down the app refractor path I am on now, however I would have got here a lot quicker and saved plenty of time and money! What I would have missed out on though is the experience of using somewhere over 60 different scopes! Mostly bought used and sold on for minimal loss, although a few I have taken quite big hits on. You live and learn!

 

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It says something positive about the community, on a large scale, that you can find good quality gear and not have to worry much. And add to that the huge benefit of SGL (and the other) forums and local clubs - ya save time and munny with that advice-driven ability to focus your search, set your 'goal' pieces, avoid duds and dead-ends.

If I had had just this past month's worth of advice gained from the forums, I'd've gotten the wife and I this far for a good bit less. We're 2 hours from anywhereselse and there's been just 1 star party here this year, that we know of. National Park Service hired some folk from here and there for an outreach. Not a lot of info exchange - " here, take a look, next please...".  Not a huge turn-out, but enough to say there is interest in the area. 

 And you're right if you say 'ya can't beat the experience of having had xyz scopes' - hands on (if you pay attention which I don't always) is invaluable, which again can be had with good community on-the-cheap. 

And some of it - AP - doesn't seem to ever get 'very inexpensive'. Those imaging tools just to cost more, true enough. New or pre-owned, I guess there's just not the volume to get things very inexpensive - upgrades get funded by sales and I think that keeps prices up a bit.

Always ask, I'm finding, even if it's an old listing or says 'sold' or what you're needing is part of a lot - it doesn't hurt to ask and so far I don't think I've annoyed a seller by doing so, and I've gotten three good deals.

I hope these posts catch some new folk (like meself) before big or first buys.

Well, work calls, holiday or no =)

Be Safe, Be Well

 

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I paid perhaps more than I should to get the goto mount and bought brand new as the classifieds/ebay weren't forthcoming when I wanted one.  How I kicked myself when the setup appeared in the SGL classifieds for getting onto about 1/2 the price I paid for mine about 9 months after I bought mine.  Since then I haven't got much use out of it.  I could have used it last night, but wasn't ready to go when I spotted it was clear - I was tired after a busy day and couldn't be bothered to lug anything outside (I did go out for 20 mins looking for Draconids, but didn't see any).  I keep seeing EP's that I want in the SGL classifieds (today is no exception), but really can't justify spending more cash when I am using it so little. 

What I want is a mate who also wants to telescope, its much more interesting to chat about what you are viewing, but I can't get anyone interested in coming to me, I tired the local club, but that was all about going to meetings and chatting about astronomy stuff rather than viewing.  I did try one of the viewing nights, but wasn't impressed.  It was a devil of a location to lug a big telescope to and setup in, no offer of a cup of coffee, no cake/biscuits, and no-one interested in trying to help me set-up as  newbie.  So at the moment although I am keen on getting 'closer' to my seen objects common sense is prevailing and I have decided that there is no point in buying more kit even if it is a 'good deal' as I am struggling to find the time and inclination to use what I have.  In fact I have read about people who have been having a great time for many years with just 2 EP's and am aware that I have a set-up that many would envy, I just wish I could find the time to go and use it.  Not only that, but if I do go outside I have to contend with a family who don't seem to realise that putting on the porch or kitchen light doesn't help, that coming out to see what I am doing with a white 10000 candle power torch doesn't help, that there is a good reason I switch off the security light, and there is no need to come and find out what I'm doing with said torch just because I'm having a look at view from a different corner of the garden, or have disappeared outside without explanation.  What I ought to do is station the kit in the middle on the field, but its a long way to lug it and no-where to leave it night to night.  (Sorry, I'm clearly on a roll here)

However, on balance, I think that anyone that buys new probably has more money than sense - I should have certainly have waited until I knew more about what I wanted and how difficult it was all going to be to use and then have held out until I could buy what I wanted second-hand.  I think I would have still wanted the same telescope, but I do regret how much I coughed up for it. 

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1 hour ago, JOC said:

I paid perhaps more than I should to get the goto mount and bought brand new as the classifieds/ebay weren't forthcoming when I wanted one.  How I kicked myself when the setup appeared in the SGL classifieds for getting onto about 1/2 the price I paid for mine about 9 months after I bought mine.

I'm scared of eBay, seems too iffy to guarantee a good deal/quality sometimes. Classifieds can have scams, too, Craigslist seems rife with them. If I buy used, I want hands-on before I write a check. I bought my Edge and AVX new, and less than 2 weeks after getting it, everybody had a sale, could have had it for $250 less had I known ahead of time. Oh, well......

Quote

I tired the local club, but that was all about going to meetings and chatting about astronomy stuff rather than viewing.  I did try one of the viewing nights, but wasn't impressed.  It was a devil of a location to lug a big telescope to and setup in, no offer of a cup of coffee, no cake/biscuits, and no-one interested in trying to help me set-up as  newbie.

Too bad you can't "swim the pond" (Atlantic) and join our club. Tons and years of experience, many guys been doing this for 50+ years. They're more than happy to help play with your gear and show you how to use it, I've learned stuff faster than I can retain it since joining. We have a great location, too, a school -owned, freestanding observatory that we are caretakers of, and the club has a very active public outreach program. We do (or try to have, depending on weather) a dark-site viewing once a month (a state park about 25 miles from here), coordinated with a couple other area clubs.

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However, on balance, I think that anyone that buys new probably has more money than sense

Sounds like me to a 'T'. I don't regret spending the money, though, rather than wait. I could miss out on a lot of clear nights of viewing.

 

Edited by Luna-tic
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12 minutes ago, Luna-tic said:

rather than wait. I could miss out on a lot of clear nights of viewing

Perhaps this is how I ought to look at it.  In the last 9 months I have actually seen some nice things, I've had a few double stars like Castor (which is my yardstick as I can get it split easily), the moon, the sun (I made a filter), Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus, M42, split the trapezium, took a look at the double double (split one side, but not the other), M13, Pleiades (which has far too many vowels in it!), Sirius (the monster raving party star - couldn't split it, but its lovely and twinkly).  Haven't had a great deal of luck (translate that as no luck!!) on the faint grey fuzzy (FGF) front despite having some nice filters - I think I need a really clear night, get all the lights down and trust the goto. 

If I'm ever in North Carolina I'll let you know LOL  The 'dark site' location I was offered was someone's back garden and to access it meant a considerable number of trips of about 50+ yards down a narrow pitch black alley and through a narrow garden gate into a back garden full of trees (I think Dob's are harder to use when they have to look up too much) - where I struggled to setup alone, couldn't get the goto to work and no-one offered to show me how to find things by another route.   In contrast, my own location is a 10 acre smallholding, with hard-standing, shelter, and my 50 yard walk (if I fancied doing it to get away from the house interference mentioned above) is at least through an open plan garden with no hedges (Visitors could also drive around and park there if they didn't want to lug stuff - I would have to lug stuff as it's in the house and no point in loading the car) and I don't think the offered location in a town was any darker than my own - OK, I have a lit factory to one side behind a hedge, but to other intents and purposes I am in the countryside and in some directions its fairly dark, I would also get the kettle going and bake a cake for visitors!

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3 hours ago, JOC said:

Perhaps this is how I ought to look at it.  In the last 9 months I have actually seen some nice things, I've had a few double stars like Castor (which is my yardstick as I can get it split easily), the moon, the sun (I made a filter), Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus, M42, split the trapezium, took a look at the double double (split one side, but not the other), M13, Pleiades (which has far too many vowels in it!), Sirius (the monster raving party star - couldn't split it, but its lovely and twinkly).  Haven't had a great deal of luck (translate that as no luck!!) on the faint grey fuzzy (FGF) front despite having some nice filters - I think I need a really clear night, get all the lights down and trust the goto. 

If I'm ever in North Carolina I'll let you know LOL  

Haven't looked at Mars or Venus yet, but I've almost worn the rings off Saturn, LOL. I'va also split the Trapezium, split Rigel, but haven't looked at Sirius yet (way past my bedtime when it rises now, but I'll get it later this year) The only (fuzzy) I've seen somewhat clearly naked eye is M42, but I did a single shot 27 sec EPP of M13 that cleared up the cluster some. I've looked at the Pleiades, but my F/R is a bit narrow (f/10) on the Edge 8 until I get my f/7 reducer; however I have looked at it through my C6 with the 6.3 reducer in place and got the entire cluster in view.

Waiting right now for my two latest purchases to roll up in the Big Brown Truck; a Vixen 2" flip mirror, and the beginnings of my filter collection, an O III, a narrowband UHC/LPR, and a variable polarizer (to dim the Moon a bit).

 You're welcome any time. Sort of a reversal of  a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, wouldn't you say?

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5 minutes ago, Luna-tic said:

Haven't looked at Mars or Venus yet, but I've almost worn the rings off Saturn, LOL. I'va also split the Trapezium, split Rigel, but haven't looked at Sirius yet (way past my bedtime when it rises now, but I'll get it later this year) The only (fuzzy) I've seen somewhat clearly naked eye is M42, but I did a single shot 27 sec EPP of M13 that cleared up the cluster some. I've looked at the Pleiades

Isn't it kind of amazing, that we can be half a planet from each other yet we can still look at the same things in the sky?

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7 hours ago, Luna-tic said:

Yeah, just not at the same time.

Unless ye use yer imaginations... =)

Now, earlier I took peach over pear, in a way, and blathered on about pre-owned - but 'budget astronomy' can also mean that which you budget for, making sound and wise decisions as to geld accumulation and equipment selection in advance, then sticking to your basic procurement plan, looking at all times for ways to increase astronomy fund income and decrease equipment costs where possible, but not necessarily limiting your purchases to the pre-owned equipment market. New is nice - you get warranties and guarantees and discounts and added to mailing lists and all that - in some instances you can just say "pfft! that's not fer me! take it back, take it back!" That probably is a rare occurrence in the Astronomy communities - we're just not like that, making incorrect purchases and such - but it is a nice cushion for the guest crowd.

And new, in some cases, can actually be cheaper than pre-owned - there are, and I kid you not, deals available wherein if you chose to accept you would pay more for a pre-owned item w/ shipping than for the same item, new, with shipping! I've so far managed to remain alert enough to avoid that pitfall, but it exists - Be Wary!

I'm a bit twitched that Excel just ate the Budget Astronomy Spreadsheet (with a pool and room for a pony!) I was working on. 

CS&SE,

 

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Have you paid the $15/year to join Astromart? Astromart is the best place here in the US for used astro-gear. It costs the $15 to cut out spammers, spambots, and crooks. Members rate each other. And it runs really well. I usually don't recommend anything that costs $$$, but for Astromart, I make an exception. They're that good. I've both bought and sold there and never had any problems whatsoever. Here's the link:

https://www.astromart.com/

I'd also like to say thank you for the postings! Budget astronomy is woefully under-appreciated I've seen. And it's why I usually (ironic) only try to steer people to good stuff that's free.

Enjoy!

Dave

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53 minutes ago, Dave In Vermont said:

Have you paid the $15/year to join Astromart? Astromart is the best place here in the US for used astro-gear. It costs the $15 to cut out spammers, spambots, and crooks. Members rate each other. And it runs really well. I usually don't recommend anything that costs $$$, but for Astromart, I make an exception. They're that good. I've both bought and sold there and never had any problems whatsoever. Here's the link:

https://www.astromart.com/

I'd also like to say thank you for the postings! Budget astronomy is woefully under-appreciated I've seen. And it's why I usually (ironic) only try to steer people to good stuff that's free.

Enjoy!

Dave

Thanks for the link!

I have  - joined 4 or 5 days back and already a satisfied customer thereof - it's a great venue, but you have to be quick! Missed a nice Vixen and a mount because I refreshed my coffee.  Very nice folks there, and here, and @ CN. 

Got a couple Baaders for my HoneyBadger and some X-Cel LXs for the granddaughters - I doubt I could tell them from pristine new, except one box looks 'older' than the others. I expected little thumbscrew marks on the barrels or something - nada. Maybe a fluke - but that's eight lenses from six sellers so far - the quality is there; Astro(nomy) folks care :icon_biggrin:.  Avg savings was 27.2 % off retail, shipped - enough for a 'free' pre-owned Baader Zoom for the wife. 

Would've saved a little more if I'd known to use notifications, but I'm happy. I'm watching a set of 4 Expanse go for 60 + change. I really want to try them, but they're Not In My Budget!! Aargghh! I am soooo tempted. Cool thing - there'll be another set out there before long, or as loners.

They just went for $62.50. that hurt.  $170 new. meh.

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